The least presentable room in Sylvan, UMass

This could be one of the least presentable places in the Sylvan area of UMass, regular cleaning is optional.

Welcome to Paradise

Box corner

The Floor-drobe

Time to leave


Brad Stelter presentation

I have been following Brad Stelter’s blog for this class called ‘Media Decoder‘ in which he covers topics relating to the media industry for the New York Times.

This is an example of a typical post from Stelter, usually around the 300 to 350 word mark. He does not blog on a daily basis but is blogging around four days each week, some of which he posts multiple times.

He writes an informative tone, in some cases the posts he writes are written as if they were for print. He does write about the potential future steps for media. He actually produced a video post with another writer, David Carr, with regards to this.

Another interesting video post he did was this one with regards to Libya.

It seems that his posts are a mixture of reporting and aggregated information. This story discussing an attack on CBS’ Lara Logan contains a degree of aggregated information.

He does contribute regularly for the print version of the New York Times covering similar stories in the Business section.

Megabus, a company aiming high and succeeding

It is 6.30am on a freezing January morning. A crowd of well over fifty people is quickly gathering at the corner of the West Side of 9th Avenue in Manhattan. Amongst the crowd are college students, senior citizens and young professionals.
Parked by the curb side where they are cued up are four Megabus carriers ready to depart for destinations such as Amherst, Baltimore and Philadelphia. On the side of each of these four blue buses is a logo of a pink faced man saying, “Fares from as low as $1!” One of those to have braved the cold conditions is Lewis Isaacs, a twenty four year old exchange student at UMass Amherst and a frequent passenger with Megabus. “For one third of the price of a trip with Peter Pan, I managed to travel more than three times the distance without having to make a transfer once.”
With many people still feeling the effects of the economic crisis it is not hard to see why curb-side operators, such as Megabus, are so popular in the current climate. If fares are booked far enough in advance then one way trips may only set passengers back $1 and return journeys can cost as little as $3. A study carried out by DePaul University of Chicago discovered that these operators were the fastest growing method of intercity travel in the United States for the year 2009-10, increasing by 23.9 percent.
President and Chief Operating Officer of Megabus Dale Moser stated, “There is a certain demand for this type of service and I feel that we have started to reinvent it within the United States.” His statement is not an unfounded one as the ridership for Megabus increased dramatically last year, by a staggering 48 percent. Isaacs stated, “I like the Megabus because it has good facilities, comfortable and spacious seating and a reliable Wi-Fi network.”
Megabus initially began life in the United Kingdom in 2003 after being established by the Stagecoach Group. It currently has nineteen routes in operation in the United Kingdom. It commenced operation in the United States in April 2006 from its Chicago hub, offering routes to cities such as Cleveland, Detroit and Minneapolis. Now, there are an additional four hubs, in New York, Philadelphia and Toronto and Washington D.C. These five hubs offer customers routes to over fifty cities in the United States and Canada. One of the most recent additions to the schedule is the New York to Amherst (via Hartford) service, which started running in December of 2010. Mr Moser stated that this route was in very high demand. “We had a significant amount of e-mails and social network requests for our type of service at UMass.” The low cost fares are obviously very appealing to the student population, who have limited budgets from which to live off.
However due to contractual reasons Megabus is not allowed to go directly to UMass Amherst, leaving passengers off at the nearby Hampshire Mall in Hadley. Lewis Isaacs has no problems with this inconvenience, “I don’t mind not having a dedicated bus station if it means that I am saving money on a fare.” It is not just the Amherst route that experiences this, it is also the case for the majority of Megabus routes, which is how they have earned the title of ‘curb side operators’, as they literally drop passengers off by the roadside. Moser explains that this is because, “we have a business model with proximity of where travellers want to go, and that is not to bus terminals.” He continued to explain that this was a reason for Megabus’ ability to offer low fares, “We don’t need sales staff because of this so it saves us several costs.”
As much money as Megabus has potentially saved its millions of customers over the years it could possibly be costing others a certain degree of revenue. A number of small business owners, whose businesses are situated around 33rd St in Manhattan, have complained that Megabus operating within that region blocks their businesses from plain sight. Another claim is that the passengers waiting to board the Megabus block the sidewalks and cause an unnecessary congestion around the area. As a result of this there are measures in place in New York City to combat the ever growing issue. If the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and several community boards were to approve these measures then Megabus and other such operators will face certain restrictions. These low cost operators would require a permit in order to operate within the city as well as being assigned designated areas in which to drop off and pick up their passengers. So despite the numerous positives that Megabus brings it isn’t popular amongst everyone. However Moser claims that this issue will not affect his company too badly, “we have always worked with the city of New York, and these issues are not as relevant as much to us as they are to others.”
Mr Moser states that Megabus does not consider its main competition to be other bus companies. “We believe that our true competition is from the automobile. 65 percent of the people who rode with us said they chose Megabus over their car.” He also stated that 17 percent of the riders had chosen Megabus over air travel. As for the future Moser was coy about what Megabus has planned, stating that they have short term as well as long term initiatives in place, neither of which he was a liberty to discuss.
As the bus pulls in to the car park at Hampshire Mall the passengers left on the bus are mostly college students. The majority get off the bus only to discover that the driver is going to continue on to UMass Amherst, despite not technically being allowed to. Parked for roughly ten minutes in front of Haigis Mall at UMass it is clear that the driver is allowing time for a clever advertising technique on behalf of Megabus. While students walk past the stationary vehicle they are reminded that Megabus now operates in Amherst. It is a ploy that seems to be working after a year of positives for Megabus and there are no signs that there fortunes are about to significantly change.

Interview with Nick Savell'

Cheap buses – good for some

A bill is under consideration in New York to restrict where curbside operators, such as Megabus, can operate. The New York Times highlighted that many complaints had been made by business owners who feel that the parked buses block their businesses from view, thus reducing the potential market. In the Times article pub owner Martin Whelan stated,

“The buses line up on the whole block, so if you’re across the street you can’t see the businesses.”

If the bill was to pass then companies could have to ensure that they hold a permit in order to travel around the city. Specific pick-up and drop-off spots could also be established. Despite the potential inconvenience it appears that the bus companies would welcome any changes, BoltBus spokesman Timothy Stokes said,

“As long as each curbside carrier is treated equally in their operations, we are fine with any changes the city deems necessary.”

This is certainly an interesting development for these cheap fare companies and it could be the start of more restraints for the likes of BoltBus and Megabus.

Who ate all the pies?

2009/10 may not have been a good year for many financially, but for Europe’s top football teams it was one to savour. An article on WebWire highlights that the top 20 ranked teams raked in a staggering €4.3 billion between them. Dan Jones of the business group Deloitte stated,

“The game’s top clubs have proved themselves well-placed to meet these economic challenges given their large and loyal supporter bases, ability to drive broadcast audiences, and continuing attraction to corporate partners.”

Jonathan Clegg of the Wall Street Journal highlights that Real Madrid were the most profitable team in the latest rankings, which accounted for the year 2008/09. The Spanish giants revenue totalled €438.6 million. It is clear that despite the economic hardships fans are still more than willing to support their team by attending games, purchasing merchandise and of course the pie stall. English teams were the most prominent in the top 10, with 4 representatives.
Paul Rawnsley, a Director within Deloitte, believes that this trend will continue next year,

“Despite the difficult economic times we would not be surprised to report that revenues have grown again when we cover the current season in next year’s report.”

With a loyal fan base and the many other methods of bringing in revenue it is apparent that sports teams will continue to thrive despite the financial maladies.

Chart courtesy of

Where’s my CD?

It appears that the Compact Disc is finally dwindling away as a source of music. Aidin Vaziri of the San Francisco Gate highlighted that Cake’s recent number one album ‘Showroom of Compassion’ became the lowest selling number one album in history. This clearly highlights the impact of new forms of technology, such as iTunes, alongside illegal downloads and file sharing on the music industry.

The decline in CD sales is very apparent when compared with ten years ago. Jennifer Lopez’s ‘J-Lo’ album sold 272,000 copies in its opening week in January 2001 whereas Cake’s latest offering sold a mere 44,000 copies in January 2011. File sharing websites offer fans the chance to obtain songs for free, albeit illegally. This is obviously attractive to those who don’t wish to part with their cash. Fans who use iTunes have the chance to buy individual songs directly off albums, which means they can decide to buy the ones the prefer the most as opposed to the entire album.

The impact of music piracy has been chronicled on Web Business in Johannesberg, which highlights that, “Due to these kinds of piracy, recorded music market in the country, has experienced a decline over the last two years losing 17.3% in 2009.” It is clear that the recording industry faces a huge struggle in the coming years and with the ever-growing influence of online downloading it will be interesting to see if it can survive.